House Democrats reiterated Wednesday that they will fight against seating Aaron Coleman, the controversial Kansas House candidate, if he prevails in November.
The fresh round of condemnations from top Democrats follows a new round of allegations against Coleman that surfaced Tuesday evening. Coleman, 19, beat incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-Kansas City, in the Democratic primary earlier this month.
The accusations, first reported by The Intercept and The Capital-Journal, came from an ex-girlfriend who alleged Coleman physically and verbally abused her during their relationship late last year.
The woman, 21-year-old Taylor Passow, said in an interview that Coleman slapped and choked her during a post-Christmas vacation and had previously threatened in a text message to kill her.
Those allegations follow Coleman’s admissions that he bullied and blackmailed teenage girls while in middle school.
House Democrats said in a social media post Wednesday that they will do "everything possible to ensure he is NEVER seated" in the Legislature.
"These further, even more horrific details prove him to be a disturbed, dangerous person, a threat to women everywhere, and should be barred from ANY position of power," the statement read. "He is absolutely unfit for office."
Frownfelter announced on Aug. 18 that he would mount a write-in campaign against Coleman, earning the backing of House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita.
Vicki Hyatt, chair of the state Democratic Party, also disavowed Coleman in a statement Wednesday.
"The Party is continuing to follow the lead of the House Democratic Caucus to secure alternate representation for hardworking Kansans in HD-37," Hyatt said. "The Party will in no way be helping Mr. Coleman's candidacy or campaign."
But threatening not to seat Coleman, in which the House would essentially refuse to recognize his election, would be an extremely rare move.
Similar rumblings existed after accusations of abuse surfaced against Wichita Republican Michael Capps in 2018. No formal attempt was made to remove him, though, and Capps lost in the primary earlier this month.
In order to remove a lawmaker, a formal complaint would first be needed to formally request discipline. A committee would then be formed and, after it makes recommendations, a two-thirds majority would be needed to expel that person.
Burdett Loomis, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Kansas, said such a move could be dicey because it would be effectively reversing the democratic choice made by voters.
Other options would be available to House Democrats, as well, Loomis noted.
"Democrats don’t have to give Coleman any committee assignments, they don’t have to admit him into the caucus as a voting member," he said. "Short of expelling him, there are some weapons that they can use."
But Loomis noted that the more recent accusations could weigh more heavily on lawmakers.
"If he were not to be seated, it would be more that there was some real evidence that supported what his ex-girlfriend says, that there was domestic abuse," he said. "That seems to me, if at all verified, to be a more serious charge and something legislators could more legitimately act on than the previous social media stuff."
Coleman initially indicated Sunday that he would drop out of the race to aid his father, who has been hospitalized. But he reversed course Tuesday and said he wouldn’t drop out, hours before the new accusations surfaced.
Coleman didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.